I raised my hands during worship at church yesterday.
I used to raise my hands all the time, back when I went to church with my family, back before Mom died, but I haven’t since. Not publicly. In my times of private worship I do, but not at church.
The thought of raising my hands publicly, within eyesight of people who know me!, felt terrifying. Vulnerable. An intimate moment between the Lord and I made public.
If you asked me five years ago if I’d ever get scared of raising my hands in church, I’d think you were nuts. And yet, there I was. Terrified of a thing that never used to scare me before.
I don’t know how that happens. How your heart can ache for love, and it seems so innocent and harmless, but it grows. Your desire for love starts to color how you see yourself and others. You analyze their behaviors and try to read their minds and wonder if you’re enough.
All you need to do is say, “I care what that person/those people think of me,” and Satan takes that and runs with it.
And so you wake up one day and realize that you’re terrified of people, of being seen, and that you’ve become caught up inside yourself that you can’t even be you anymore.
But you don’t know any other way to exist anymore. Fear has taken over.
And you thought what you needed was love, you stood your ground and crossed your arms over your chest and stubbornly said, “I NEED love! People NEED love!” And that’s true. However, you’ve created a prison for yourself- a prison of trying to earn love and prove yourself lovable, and thinking that you simply won’t be able to survive without it.
But as long as you’re there, no amount of love received in that place is going to free you from the fear that has overtaken you. Because a human’s love can’t do that. Only God’s love can set us free.
We MUST find our security in Him alone.
We must be able to say that, even if everything else is ripped away from us–even love–we will be okay because He will never leave us. And He is more than enough for us. He is all we “need”.
And I say that not in a convicting way, but with a tender heart because I KNOW how freaking painful it is to leave everything, even our desire to be loved, at the foot of the cross. It is excruciating.
But oh, how desperate we are as a society to spend more time there, at the foot of the cross, letting the Lord sing over us and remind us that He is the fulfillment of everything our hearts long for. That His love for us is REAL. And that He is ALIVE. And we are never alone.
We need Him in a desperate way. We are too vulnerable when we’re not completely hiding ourselves in Him.
Anyway, back to my story.
So, to recap, I was scared to raise my hands during worship at church.
And yet, I knew that if I held back during worship out of fear of other people, I was making them an idol. And so, even if I was worshiping God with my mouth and my heart, I was also worshiping people in my actions and my mind.
And that thought made me so sad. Because I do love my Jesus! And I don’t want to worship people!
But I felt like a prisoner to my fear of people. And while I sincerely wanted freedom, I didn’t want to have to do anything scary or uncomfortable to get it.
And so I just hoped and prayed that one day the Lord would just free me of my fear. That one day I would just raise my arms and worship Him and it wouldn’t be scary anymore.
But He doesn’t work like that.
I mean, what lesson would that have taught me? He wants to make me more like Jesus, which means that I am going to have to walk through some hard things, not just be delivered from everything.
He is more concerned about renewing my mind and freeing me from the chains that bind me than He is concerned about my comfort.
If He had just taken away my fear of raising my arms in worship, I’d still be bound in other ways. My arms might be lifted, but part of me would still be worshiping people.
I had to make a choice. If I wanted freedom from that fear, I had to CHOOSE Him. I had to choose to care more about worshiping Him than I cared about what people would think.
Even if I was terrified.
And I sensed the Lord saying, “Do you trust Me?”
Did I? Did I trust Him with my fear? With my desire to be loved? To not look like a fool? Did I trust Him enough with my heart to let it be seen? Did I trust Him enough to be vulnerable?
And again, I had to make a choice. I had to choose that yes, I trusted Him. I trusted Him with all of that and more.
And so I mustered all of my courage (literally), and I closed my eyes tight so that I could try to forget that there was anyone else in the room to witness what I was about to do, and I raised my hands.
And it was terrifying in a way beyond even my comprehension. I mean, I knew it was going to be scary, but I hadn’t anticipated that my body would react like it did- I was shaking involuntarily from my fingertips to my knees! I honestly thought I was going to have to sit down because my legs were trembling so badly.
And when I realized how badly I was shaking and that I couldn’t make myself stop, I started to feel REALLY embarrassed because PEOPLE COULD SEE ME, and what if everyone was staring at me?! What if everyone noticed!? And that train of thought didn’t do me any favors. I started to shake worse.
And there I was, my hands in the air, shaking. And embarrassed. But then, much to my own shock, I felt myself start to smile because MY HANDS WERE IN THE AIR! I did it!
And I decided that even if I wasn’t going to be able to stop shaking, I might as well make the most of the fact that my hands were raised! If people could see, they could see. The damage was already done. And so I turned my thoughts back to the One who deserved my worship.
And as I worshiped, as I kept my eyes closed and focused on the face of my Jesus, I stopped shaking.
There’s power in offering yourself as a sacrifice during worship- surrendering pride an fear and choosing instead to worship freely and openly- because He deserves it.
I raised my arms on Saturday and something broke. A chain. And I really think some of that fear was spiritual. I was fighting a battle. Because logically, it shouldn’t have been that scary. And losing control of my body like that was bizarre.
Before I had raised my hands, when the Lord was asking if I trusted Him, I also sensed Him asked me if I wanted to be free. It’s a good question. Do I want to be free?
Do I want to be free from all the things that have me bound and chained to a life that is less than what He wants for me? Am I willing to do scary things to get free? Am I willing to say, “I don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I give up trying to make myself be loved. I trust You with all of it.”? Am I willing to make the conscious decision, over and over and over again, to exalt Him above everything else- people, fear, my heartache?
Because I know that there is no life any other way.
I can stand there with my arms at my sides and worship Him with my mouth, but that isn’t going to make me any more lovable. It’s not going to get me any closer to where I want to be in relationships with people. All it’s going to do is ensure that I stay bound, living in a life of fear, worshiping things other than my God.
I deserve better than that.
HE deserves better than that.
I think yesterday’s worship service was the most important one of my life. Because I chose the Lord.
I jumped. And I shook. And I was terrified.
But then He caught me. And I smiled. And I felt His love flood my heart. And I stopped shaking.
I have to choose to do what I can, and then trust Him with the rest.
I have to surrender outcomes. I have to surrender everything I cannot control.
And I have to choose to walk in faith, to live like I believe that Scripture is Truth.
I couldn’t control my shaking or how many people noticed or what people thought.
But I could choose to raise my hands. I could choose to say to my heart and my mind, “NO. We only serve one God, and that is Jesus Christ.”
And whatever happens from there, from the time I thrust my arms heavenward, that’s up to Him.
But He promises to catch us.
He beckons us to do scary things, asking, “Do you trust Me?”
And really, no matter how scary it is, there’s nothing scarier than choosing to stay captive to something that will ultimately rob you of the fullness of life God wants for you.
For example, today I moved quickly and my bunny, Penny, jumped up and ran away. She is the sweetest, most affectionate bunny, but she is incredibly skittish. And every time I forget that and move too quickly and she runs from me, it hurts my heart.
I wish she could know that she doesn’t have to be afraid of me- not ever. That I would never hurt her.
And so I told her that.
And as I was talking to her, I sensed that the Lord could say the exact same thing to me. How often do I get caught up fearing things that I don’t need to be afraid of? How often do I live like I don’t trust Him? How often do I forget that He won’t hurt me?
Oh Jesus, help me continue to do the scary thing. Help me continue to choose You. I pray for freedom. For fullness of life. Break away the chains that bind me, Lord, as I run to You.